Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

Turns out I did find the time to make cakes this week. Admittedly not a complicated recipe – an adaptation of the 2-4-6-8 Cake – but even so.

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So for the cakes:

2 eggs

4oz butter

6oz sugar

8oz flour (if plain, add 2tsp baking powder)

1oz cocoa powder

Plus up to 1cup water/milk. I used water.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs.

Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix well. Add water/milk until it looks like cake batter.

I meant to add chocolate chips, but I got distracted and forgot. But do so, if you wish.

Spoon into cases and bake at a moderate temperature for about half an hour.

Allow to cool.

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For the icing:

Chocolate, about 8oz

160ml coconut milk

2 tbsp honey

2tsp vanilla essence

Icing sugar to taste

Marshmallows/edible glitter (optional)

Melt the chocolate and stir in the coconut milk, honey and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the icing sugar to your preferred taste. Spoon onto the cakes and decorate.

White Chocolate, Pineapple and Papaya Cupcakes.

Do you write best at your laptop or with a pen and paper? Or at a type-writer?

I was talking about this the other day with my boss Helen. Apparently our branch of Clinton’s attracts writers. Anyway, we were discussing distractions and where best to write. See, I can write more quickly and words flow more easily when I’m sat at my laptop, Hilda (yup, I name my laptop), but I probably get more written when I’m sat with pen, paper, and ClassicFM.

But I have the best breakthroughs, and write what I think is my best work, when I’m walking and I have no pen and/or paper.

Like the other day. I finally worked out the ending of my story – something I’ve been puzzling over for months – while I was walking home from work. It was a sunny evening and my mind wandered. It wandered right to my world, and wrote for me a wonderful scene. Only I couldn’t remember it exactly when I came to write it down. Just the gist. Which’ll have to do until I’ve rewritten everything that happens before then.

Oh well.

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This week’s recipe comes, again, from a Hummingbird recipe book. The number of times I use those books is probably the best review I can give them.

It was a White Chocolate and Cranberry Cupcake. But I couldn’t be bothered to find cranberries, so I used papaya and pineapple instead. And I decorated them with marshmallows, because they were in the cupboard.

So, you need to mix 70g butter, 210g plain flour, 200g sugar and 1 tbsp baking powder in one bowl and 2 large eggs and 210ml milk in a jug. The dry ingredients should be a sandy consistency before you add the wet. Oh, and a tsp vanilla extract.

Spoon into cake-cases and pop in the oven at 170C for 20-25 minutes.

I reduced the amount of sugar – the recipe actually calls for 250g – but apparently I didn’t have that much. So I used 200g, and it doesn’t seem to have harmed the cakes.

You should get anywhere between one and two dozen cakes out of this mixture.

To ice the cakes, you’ll need butter, icing sugar, a splash of milk, and 100g melted chocolate. Beat together the butter and sugar before adding the milk and then the melted chocolate. Mix it all up and dollop on the cakes. Decorate as desired.

Peaches and Cream

In honour of International Women’s Day, I want to say just one thing. I’m not a feminist.

I was going to ask about an International Men’s Day, but apparently I’m over a decade behind the times. I just haven’t heard about it. It’s in November, apparently.

I am not a feminist for the simple reason that I believe in equality. Feminism is inherently biased towards females. The clue is in the name. If I have to label myself, I prefer ‘equalist’ because I do not care if you are male or female (or, for that matter, with whom you share your bed; that is your business, not mine). I only care if you are a good person (and if I were looking to hire somebody, whether you are the right person for the job; your gender is irrelevant. Can you do the job well with the tools at hand?). I agree, people doing the same job need to be paid the same. That’s just fair. Equal. Not a feminist issue, but an equality issue.

I think the idea of “female-only lists” is a bad one. Why would any woman want to be considered the best female candidate, rather than the best candidate? Which is what she would be if the list had contained men. Surely by accepting such things, us women are only proving what men have thought for centuries: that we aren’t capable and we need special circumstances to show that we are. Likewise quotas for top jobs. Why be chosen on the basis of being the best female (or indeed on the flip side, the best male) for the job, rather than the best person for the job?

Maybe it was just the calendar being given away at my freshers’ fair in my final year (OK, I wasn’t a fresher, but never mind; pens and calendars), but the number of days dedicated to female things compared to the number for male things was vastly larger. From September through to June, there was about eight days for women and just two for men.

There’s probably an awful lot that I’ve missed, but honestly? I’ve got better things to worry about. As long as I’m being paid the same as a man in the same job, and I have the right to vote, and to do pretty much anything I set my mind to (within legal reason and as long as I’m physically capable), then I’m happy. 

Anyway, while the sun is still shining, and Summer is clearly on its way (I tend to only consider two seasons: Summer and Winter, defined by the clocks going back and forth), I thought I’d share a summery sort of cake recipe, which, in the interests of full disclosure so you don’t think I’m cheating on my Lenten fast, I made several weeks ago. Long sentence, sorry!

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So, Peaches and Cream Cupcakes, from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.

120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 and a half tsp baking powder

40g unsalted butter

120ml milk

1 egg

Splish of vanilla extract

Peach slices, enough for a bite in each cupcake case

 

It’s another simple recipe. Start by putting the bits of peach in the bottom of the cake-cases and put to the side while you make the cake-batter.

Which you do by beating together the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter until you get a sandy consistency. Then add the milk, egg and vanilla. You’re supposed to add half the milk and beat a bit, but I didn’t read that bit, and they turned out just fine. Mix until smooth.

Spoon over the peach bits and half fill the cases, as per normal with cupcakes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 until golden brown.

Ice with vanilla butter icing (butter, icing sugar, a splish of milk and dash of vanilla).

Put the kettle on, and enjoy!

Lemon Cupcakes

I feel like I’ve made great progress in the planning of this wedding. Still haven’t reached the heights of great stress that I’m told weddings entail, but I’m sure those’ll come. The images in my head are slowly becoming a reality, now that I have the catering and the registrar sorted. And my scouring of the web has turned up several potential dresses. My favourite one, sadly, would involve me losing about three inches, and growing seven. Such is the life of a vintage-lover!

And, since we can all agree that weight-loss is clearly on my mind this week, here’s this week’s cake test: Lemon Cupcake with a Lemon Cream Cheese icing and Blueberries. The cake is a Hummingbird recipe; the icing just cream cheese and icing sugar with a little dash of lemon juice.

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What you will need: 120g flour, 1 and a half tsps baking powder, 150g sugar, lemon zest, splash of lemon juice, 100g butter, 120ml milk, and 1 egg.

Firstly, mix together all the dry ingredients and the butter until you get a sandy consistency. I will admit, I gave up on the spoon and used my hands. Stir in the milk and the egg, separately, until nicely combined, and add a splash of lemon juice. This wasn’t in the original recipe – I just wanted to make it extra lemony.

Bake for about 20 mins at 170C. You should get about a dozen cakes.

For the icing, you need: cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice. Quantities to your taste. Mix it all up like glace icing and spoon onto your cooled cakes. If they’ve lasted this long. Dot with blueberries. Raspberries would work well too.

To be honest, I’m surprised they lasted long enough to be photographed. Most persuasive in their calls to be eaten. Really very tasty. These will definitely find their way onto the cake-table!

Potential Wedding Cake #1

Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year? I hope your resolutions are continuing well.

The countdown to the wedding begins in earnest now. I have less than eight months to organise this. Which is plenty of time, I’m sure. It’s all planned in my head. Just a bit annoying that this doesn’t also mean that it is, actually, planned and organised physically too.  A shame, that. Like essays. Think about them long enough and they write themselves, right? So far, though, it’s not been nearly as stressful as I’ve been led to believe. In fact, the only stressful moment came when I discovered I’d lost a diamond from my ring. We found it again, after a hunt through both the bin and the vacuum cleaner. Not that it was in either, but to be sure.

But anyway. I’m beginning this year with cake. Lots and lots of cake. Because we need to choose the wedding cake. Shame this, needing to test cakes and recipes. You can tell I’m taking any thought of a pre-wedding diet seriously, can’t you?

So. Wedding cake. Budgetary restraints mean that it’s more likely than not to be home-made. It won’t be hugely fancy and beautifully decorated (I’m no expert decorator), but it will be tasty. So I’m going through my recipe books, hunting likely cakes and trying the recipes. Mostly in cupcake-sized variety.

The only things about the wedding cake we know we don’t want are: the traditional fruit cake (Mark and his not liking raisins), and not too boozy. Which means that if I want to make it in advance, it needs to be freezable.

Potential cake no. 1 is named Extra Indulgent Cupcakes. It’s chocolatey and simple, from Women’s Weekly Chocolate Heaven edition from before Christmas. Being a chocoholic, I tend to collect anything with lots of chocolate recipes. There’ll probably be a few more cakes from this mag in the next few months.

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It’s straight-forward. Butter, brown sugar, self-raising flour (4ozs of each), 2 eggs and 1oz of cocoa powder. Or drinking chocolate, which is what I used, since I seem to have a collection of Wittard’s luxury ones.

Butter and sugar creamed together, stirred in eggs, then the flour and beat until smooth.

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Like I said, straight-forward and simple.

Teaspoons into cupcake cases, and bung ‘em in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 190C/Gas Mark 5. Decorate any way you wish. Probably best with a chocolatey icing. 

The recipe reckons this’ll make two dozen. I’ve got ten. Meh. Five for me, five for Mark. If he’s lucky.

Postscript Taste Comment: Having let them cool a bit, and getting a bit peckish, time for a Taste-Test! Aside from being perhaps a tad over-done (I always forget about fan-ovens), this doesn’t actually detract from the generally quite yummy cake. It’s still relatively moist in the middle too. As simple chocolate cakes go, this is a pretty darn good recipe. Thanks, Women’s Weekly!